In search of Wisdom
Greetings precious people, I do hope that you are doing well today and rejoicing in the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our search for wisdom, we come to Chapter 15 of the Book of Proverbs. There are many decisions that we have to make every day. Some of little consequence, others that will affect us for the rest of our lives. In making these decisions, there are no shortage of opinions and emotions that must be sifted through before making the decision, and then there is the question of whether or not the correct decision was made. The Book of Proverbs as well as the entire Bible offers godly counsel that has been proven it to be completely reliable and trustworthy over the years. I hope that this series has encouraged you to turn to the Lord and His Word for wisdom and direction in your daily life.
There are 5 subjects that are covered in this chapter, words that we speak; the all seeing ability of God; foolishness verses wise action; righteousness verses wickedness; a cheerful heart verses sorrow.
In verses 1, 2, 4, 7, and 23 Solomon once again addresses the mouth and what comes out of it. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool does not do so. A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”
I know this subject has been covered numerous times over the past weeks but for good reason. Though our mouth is a very small part of our body, it is responsible for getting us into all sorts of trouble. When someone says or does something those rubs us the wrong way, our first reaction is to say some unkind words in return, only to make matters worse and escalate the situation. The wisest thing to do is to give a soft answer (response), which will often defuse the situation and calm things down.
This is easier said than done. The number one reason for this not being our first choice is because of ‘Pride’. Our pride tells me, ‘that person or persons had no right saying or doing what they did to me, after all don’t they know who I am? They do not deserve any kindness shown to them. In fact, they deserve worse than what they gave me.’
The words that we speak have the power to tear down and destroy a person and their reputation, or to mend and build up. The words we speak can never effectively be taken back; the damage is down no matter how many retractions we make and apologies we offer. Once they are spoken, the damage is done. Let me illustrate this by having picture in your mind a board that you drive 5 large 16-penny nails into at various depths. The deeper the nail, the greater effort is needed to pry the nail out. But a hole remains in the wood at the site where each nail was removed. Now try as you might, you will not be able to take away those holes. Yes you may be able to use some artificial means of wood putty or similar substance, but it will never be the same.
Now in verses 3 and 11 Solomon addresses one of the characteristics that make God, who He is, His ability to know all and see all. “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. Hell and Destruction are before the LORD; so how much more the hearts of the sons of men.”
God knows what you and I are doing every moment of our lives as well as what we are thinking. Many people think that because God does not respond immediately to our sin, that He is either preoccupied with something else or that He ‘missed’ it. This leads man to committing more and more sin which leads some to wrongly think that God even condones various sin that the Bible, God’s Word clearly states is wrong and will be punished. This mistaken notion that God’s lack of swift immediate response to our sin is not tolerance or acceptance, rather the Mercy of God. Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. What is it that we deserve for our sin? The Bible says that the wages of sin is death both physical and eternal.
The next area Solomon covers is the contrast between foolishness and wisdom. These are covered in verses 5, 10, 12, and 19-22. “A fool despises his father's instruction,
But he who receives correction is prudent. Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, and he who hates correction will die. A scoffer does not love one who corrects him,
nor will he go to the wise. The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway. A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish man despises his mother. Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, but a man of understanding walks uprightly. Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” These verses are self-explanatory and need no commentary.
Now the largest numbers of verses of this chapter are devoted to the contrast between righteousness and wickedness. Righteousness in these verses simply mean being right with God and choosing to do what is right, where wickedness is choosing to do what is wrong.
In verses 6, 8-9, 16-18, and 24-33 we read, “In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but He loves him who follows righteousness. Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, than great treasure with trouble. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred. A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention. The way of life winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell below. The LORD will destroy the house of the proud, but He will establish the boundary of the widow. The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD, but the words of the pure are pleasant. He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live. The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil. The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous. The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the bones healthy. The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.”
As I read through this list, it is troubling to realize how little I see in our society of the choosing and doing of the right. Instead, the decision to choose and do wickedness has become the norm in many instances and seems to be increasing. I do hope that you are making the decision to do what is right no matter what others around you are choosing to do. As the above verses tell us, God will reward the righteous.
The final subject covered in this chapter is that of the emotional state of our heart. In verses 13-15 we read, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. All the days of the afflicted are evil,
but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.”
God does want all of His children to be happy and to have joy and peace. These are not God’s primary desires for His children. Above all else, God wants His children to be Holy, living a godly life in obedience to His Word. This is the only way to be happy and to know the joy and peace of God. One of our old hymns puts this well when it says “Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.”
Dear ones, delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. We will continue our search for wisdom next time as we journey through the Book of Proverbs. Until then, may the Lord richly bless you beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web site to read all previous articles at www.calvarychapel.org/alpine/index.htm
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine